The safety of match officials has become an unrelenting issue following troubling incident in the Nigeria elite division, with an official brutally attacked on Sunday.
Bethel Nwanesi was severely dealt with by angry Remo Stars fans for disallowing a late minute goal against Bendel Insurance in Sagamu.
This is the man who handled the Remo Stars vs Bendel Insurance game today. See how the Sagamu fans dealt with him cos the game ended 1-1. This madness must stop in the NPFL. Football referees have families too 😭😰😢 pic.twitter.com/7Z5SiqzhZ7— Shina Oludare (@sportingshina) January 20, 2019
This incident comes a week after referees were thoroughly dealt with in Jos after hosts, Plateau United were held by Ifeanyi Ubah FC.
“While the NRA awaits the decision of the league organisers, the LMC, it has become imperative for the leadership of the referees body to once again not only condemn the barbaric act but also urge football authorities in the country to wade into matter because the association is on the verge of asking its members to keep away from the league to avoid being killed by desperate club officers and their rampaging supporters,” the NRA wrote in a statement.
“A General Assembly of the association shall meet to take a decision on this matter even as the sanctions placed on Plateau Utd based on the earlier resolution that NRA members won't honour matches on grounds where referees are beaten remains sacrosanct.
“It is obvious that the incidents in Jos and Sagamu, coming early in the Abridged League are ominous signs of bad days ahead for the domestic league, particularly, Nigerian referees taking part in the NPFL, who are at the verge of losing their lives at match venues if scenes witnessed so far from the violent venues are considered.”
“It is on this note that the NRA who strongly cares for the welfare of its members and believes that no life of a referee is worth any league match in the country is considering keeping away from the NPFL matches to avoid a referee beaten to death,” the statement continued.
“The desire to save the lives of referees forces the NRA to beckon on the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, LMC and so called NPFL/ Club Owners, to as a matter of urgent concern intervene immediately to save the situation.”